Commentary on Keller Et Al, 2017

The Problem with Interpreting Low Base Rate Behaviors

Published in: Sleep Health, Volume 3, Issue 4 (August 2017), Page 227. doi: 10.1016/j.sleh.2017.05.003

Posted on RAND.org on August 22, 2017

by Wendy M. Troxel

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The recent article by Keller and colleagues (February 2017) adds to the growing literature on the adverse consequences of early start times for students. As the authors note when start times issues are debated in districts around the country, one of the primary strategies for delaying secondary school start times to accommodate the biologically-driven phase delay that occurs around the time of puberty is to "flip" the bus and school start schedules so that elementary students start first and middle and high schools start later. As a sleep researcher and parent of 2 children, I could not agree more with the authors that we need to do more as parents, educators, and community members to ensure that all students get suffcient sleep and, frankly, excessively early start times (7:30 AM or earlier) are not ideal for any student. However, due to the exigencies of tiered bus systems in many school districts, one group of students has to go first. This can lead to heated debates regarding who should go first, elementary students or middle and high school adolescents?

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